Mucus transport in the airways by two-phase gas-liquid flow mechanism: continuous flow model

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1986 Mar;60(3):908-17. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1986.60.3.908.


Mucus transport speed induced by two-phase gas-liquid interaction was measured in the continuous two-phase annular flow tube models, and factors influencing the transport speed were assessed in conjunction with rheological properties of mucus. The flow model was made with 1.0-cm-ID glass tubes and positioned either vertically or horizontally. During a continuous passage of airflow through the model tube, mucus stimulants were supplied into the tube at a rate of 0.5-2.0 ml/min. The advancing speed of the leading edge of the mucous layer and mean mucous layer thickness were then measured. The transport speed in the vertical tube model ranged from 1.1 to 3.1 cm/min with a mucus feed rate of 0.5 ml/min at airflow rates of 0.33-1.17 l/s and increased with increasing airflow rates but decreased rapidly with increasing viscosity of mucus. The transport speed increased almost proportionally with increasing mucus feed rate. Elasticity of mucus did not affect the transport speed itself. However, more elastic mucus caused lower flow resistance and thereby could be transported with a much reduced work load. The transport speed in the horizontal tube model was 5-60% faster than that in the vertical tube model. The mean mucous layer thickness in the vertical tube model was found to be in the range of 0.5-1.5 mm in the experimental conditions used, and decreased rapidly with increasing airflow rate and decreasing viscosity of mucus. From these data the transport speed could be functionally related to airway diameter, mucous layer thickness, and mucus production rate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • Physiology / instrumentation
  • Physiology / methods
  • Pulmonary Ventilation*
  • Respiratory System / metabolism*
  • Time Factors